You may have seen the BBC series, but still, read the book. Its subtitle: My Family and Other Glamorous Varmints, says it all. Simon Doonan looks back on his life and the people in it.
If you’ve seen the show, you know some of the characters; they’re here, though different, perhaps more real. His flamboyant mother, his sensitive father, his sister, his best friend Biddie, blind aunt Phyllis and her seeing eye dog Lassie. They’re joined by his crazy Uncle Ken, by his crazier grandmother Narg, and by a supporting ensemble of the quirky, the over-the-top, the grotesque, and the beautiful.
Chapter by chapter, story by story, Simon takes us on a journey through time and space, through Reading and London and LA and New York. Feeling so different from everything around him as a child, and fearing what seems to be the inevitability of some future mental disorder, Simon finds solace at first in the culture of camp, which leads directly to his great quest: for the Beautiful People. (Who ARE the Beautiful People? Think Glamour! Think Decadence! Think Wit and Charm and Fashion and Fame!)
Simon pulls no punches as he divulges all the dirt and drama of this quest. His stories are queeny as hell, but hilarious and real, and over such a course of years, there are many changes in how he defines the Beautiful People he seeks (indeed, if he even wants to find them). And as the 60s become the 70s become the 80s, Simon realizes there are things harder to survive than not being amongst the Beautiful People, as a plague descends upon gay men everywhere. What could be LESS beautiful than disease, decay, and death, and how are the survivors supposed to find Beauty again?
Simple. Beauty is all around us, if we just let ourselves see it, and sometimes, it is very much as Dorothy learned in the Wizard of Oz: if you a ever go looking for your heart’s desire, you may need to go no further than your own backyard. For, as Simon learns, all the people we meet in life, no matter how poor or plain or plain crazy, are Beautiful People.
This Article was Written By: Rob B. Follow him on Twitter @robbrowatzke